Share This Post
Due Process and Special Education Services
When most people hear the term “due process,” they think of a person’s right to a trial before receiving punishment for a crime. However, in our legal system, due process means that people have a right to be heard before the government can take away any right granted by the Constitution or by statute.
Because schools are government agencies — and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) gives special rights to children with disabilities and their parents — parents are entitled to due process when they disagree with school districts or other agencies about what services their children should receive.
Under New Jersey’s IDEIA Part B programs, the parent’s right to due process manifests in several ways:
- Written notice — Parents are entitled to receive written a notice in advance when school officials intend to take certain actions regarding their children. This is true prior to initial evaluations, IEP meetings and changes to the IEP.
- Participation — A parent has a right to be present and participate in IEP meetings.
- Consent — A parent must consent before a school can take many actions regarding a child. A parent can withdraw consent at any time. The only limitation is that a parent cannot withdraw consent for only part of an IEP. The withdrawal must apply to the entire program.
- Resolution of disputes — When parents disagree with a portion of their children’s IEPs or proposed changes made by the school district, they have the right to a due process hearing wherein the dispute is submitted to an impartial administrative law judge of the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law. Alternately, a parent may request mediation in which a neutral facilitator attempts to broker an agreement between the parties without making a binding decision.
If you disagree with your school district about the contents or implementation of your child’s IEP, a New Jersey special education attorney could be an invaluable ally.